Where Education Meets Real Life!

As the calendar year winds to a close, I decided to take some time to think back over the last two academic semesters this year. This has been busy year, both in and outside the classroom.

I have always approached teaching in the Music Business program with the thought that Academia needs the Industry, as much as the Industry needs Academia. Educated graduates benefits everyone. So from day one, I’ve always looked beyond the textbook, choosing to incorporate guest speakers from the music and entertainment industry into the curriculum of every course I teach. In addition, I make it a personal practice to remain engaged in the industry, through organizational memberships, presentations at industry conferences, and attending industry events to maintain business relationships, and to continue learning and remaining current with what’s going on in the music business today. I do all that so that I’m always able to present my students not just with the knowledge of industry terms, definitions, and the basics of working in the business; which are all very important. But also in an effort to help them to be ready to walk across the commencement stage, right onto the stage of life; the real life of working, growing, and succeeding in their chosen field.

Bringing industry executives in to speak is always a real treat, as students have the opportunity to hear from Song Pluggers, Publishing Administrators, Booking Agents, Artist Managers, Entertainment Publicists, and Tour Managers.

We traveled down to Nashville for some industry showcases:

And again to Nashville to visit top Talent Agencies:

 

 

I also encourage my students to volunteer at various music conferences and attend networking events:

I’ll admit that my approach to teaching does require more of my energy, more creativity, and more out-of-the-classroom time, as I work to make every event tie-in to what we’re learning, and how to apply it to real world working. But it’s worth it as I watch some students listen more intently when they meet people who are doing what they want to do when they graduate. And pushing students out of their comfort zones, getting them to do some things they don’t want to do, or they didn’t think they could complete successfully. And then seeing the results of them making a connection, and getting that internship or job. Or getting email from former students who talk about how they didn’t realize just how much they were learning in class, until they had to apply that knowledge at work.

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An industry friend shared this graphic with a group of my students at a Tour Management Workshop.* I kept it because it applies to so much more; to life itself. It was a reminder to them that success (the iceberg) required a lot of sacrifice to achieve. Sometimes people only see what’s above the surface (the success), but they don’t take note of all of the hard work, persistence, discipline, rejection, courage, risks and other things required to achieve it. But that’s also why it’s important for people to surrounded themselves with good habits, passion, honesty, and dedication to maintain that success.

Education is important. But where education meets real life makes it even more worthwhile. Helps me to enjoy what I do even more. I can’t wait to get another year started!

 

  • Success graphic provided by Eric Kilby, Director of Touring for Compassion Productions
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Labor Day is Not Just for Cookouts

So we’re two weeks into the new college academic school year, and we’re having our first break — Labor Day! Every few years, I like to remind myself of the historical significance of some of the holidays we often take for granted. Labor Day is one of those. Another day off from work; no school; an extension of the summer vacation. I’ve heard it referred to by almost everything except what it was designed for, and the reason the first Monday of every September was put aside as a holiday.

According to the Department of Labor’s website, Labor Day is intended to be dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

The first governmental recognition of Labor Day came through municipal ordinances passed during 1885 and 1886. The first state bill was introduced into the New York legislature, but the first to become law was passed by Oregon on February 21, 1887. By 1894, 23 other states had adopted the holiday in honor of workers, and on June 28 of that year, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday.

Like many other American holidays, I sometimes think if the real meaning and purposes of these days, which we set aside for either celebration or remembrance of something significant to the values, growth, or protection our country, are buried under the day-long or weekend obligations of parties and picnics; camping and cookouts. Or drowned out by the advertising sounds of retail shopping, car dealer sales, and specials on in-ground pools and summer inventory clearance!

Social and economic achievements of American workers. That’s saying a lot; especially in these modern times. How often do we think about what we do, and how those things contribute to these achievements every day?

There’s a lot of “labor” that goes into working in the entertainment industry; whether you work in motion pictures, television, radio, sports; even gaming. And then there’s music, which I believe also helps to contribute to the “strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.”  They all require a labor force!

Not everyone understands that while from the outside, this industry might look glamorous, the truth of the matter is that it takes a lot of work to make it successful. “Overnight” successes are years in the making. And it could be decades before you see sustainability in many artist’s careers.

The word “labor,” means to “work” or “hard work.” The noun for “work,” is an activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result. In spite of the definitions, people still complain when they have to “work;” and when what they’re doing is “hard,” and requires a mental or physical challenge.

I asked students an open-ended question on their first quiz this semester. I wanted to know what they were looking forward to learning and getting out of the Artist Management class. There were several predictable answers expected from someone taking a course such as this. But one student made mention of the fact that while they were interested in working in the music industry, they didn’t want a job that required more than a 40-hour work week.

I chuckled when I read this, but I did not directly challenge the student on their thinking. Obviously there are some jobs in the industry that are basic 9 to 5 type of positions. But I did take the opportunity to let them know that management was not one of them; neither would be most of the jobs related to building an artist’s career.

Working in the music industry, and certainly in artist management, is not for those more interested in keeping up with the clock and hitting some magical “end of the work week.” It requires labor. Hard work. And it will at times be taxing on both the mental and physical capacity of the person doing it. But if it’s something you’re seriously interested in doing, it can and will also be rewarding. And like most things, that means it’ll be worth the time.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Yes, I know we’re already two weeks into this new year, but it is, after all, still a NEW year! I don’t know where the last two weeks have gone; I mean Christmas was only three weeks ago! But next week, the students will be back, and everything will be ready, set, GO for the new semester.

I enjoy teaching in the recording industry field; helping students to learn more about the “business” of the music business. I love when you see the look on their faces when they finally “get it.” Or when you have a guest speaker from the industry, and the students are in awe of the opportunity of hearing from industry greats. And I especially love getting those phone calls or email when students have landed a job or a regular gig, and their so excited that everything came together for them.

Don’t get me wrong, though. It can also oftentimes be very challenging. Many students come in the classroom and into the program convinced they will be the exception; that they’ve figured out the answers to breaking into the business or “saving” the recording industry. And of course, there are the few who think they’ll accomplish their major life goal with minimal effort; that someone will just see them and want to sign them to a record deal; hear their song and sign them to a publishing deal; learn about them, and want them to produce their next album. It can definitely be a delicate balance trying to teach and encourage students, wanting them to keep their dreams and passions alive, while also helping them to understand the reality of the world of entertainment and the music business.

But it’s not just students who have some of these “fantasy” thoughts. I run into the same challenges with many of the new artists I work with. It’s not always evident right away; but it typically comes out when it’s time to commit to a routine; sacrifice regular lifestyle items in order to work longer and harder to strengthen and then exploit their talent; or pay a bill for an extra resource, service, or business assistance designed to help build and increase their brand.

I liken getting into and succeeding in the music industry to that of the sporting world.

  • If you want to make the team, you have to understand the sport; learn how to play the position you’re trying out for; establish a practice routine; and make other changes to become competitive. For an athlete, that includes working out, possibly doing weights, eating well, and other things related to their field of competition. Getting a job, or signed in the music industry isn’t much different — understand the business, learn how to do the job you’re trying to get, and do other things, like networking and reading industry publications, etc. to become competitive in your field.
  • If you want to stay on the team, you have to learn how to execute the plays, keep up with the changes that impact what you do and make the necessary adjustments, and show improvement in your skills. No different with the music industry, and perhaps even moreso, since changes in the music industry can happen so often — some from technology and some from laws and policies that impact how you make, distribute, buy, or listen to music.

So whether you’re a student looking for a degree in a Music Business program, or an aspiring artist looking to break into the industry, or someone interested in working for a record label, becoming a talent agent, or working as an artist manager — the short answer is this. You’re going to have to work hard for what you want. There will be competition. Talent isn’t everything; but defining what is becomes  as challenging as explaining the “IT” factor. And while who you know may get your foot in the door, only what you know will enable you to stay there and become successful.

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!

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Merry Christmas! I hope you are all doing well, and that this past year has been good to you. For me and Gloria Green Entertainment, it’s been a year of transition. Three years ago, I was teaching part-time as an Adjunct Professor at MTSU while still running my company on a full-time basis. It was the perfect pairing since I was teaching Music Business students in the Recording Industry department. Fast forward a year later, and I suddenly found myself working full-time at MTSU — teaching Artist Management, Concert Promotion & Touring, Music Publicity, and Survey. The time I could devote to my company shifted to a part-time basis (thus my absence from and irregular postings to this blog). Then, earlier this year, I was hired as a tenure-track Assistant Professor! Who knew how the last five years would play out?!

I love teaching! I love sharing my knowledge, my experience, and even my contacts, with the next generation of music industry executives, producers, and performers. Part of that commitment for me now includes launching MTSU’s first ever Talent Agency class back in January, developed with the aid of several MTSU talent agent alums. And now, focusing my attention towards the completion of a Music Publicity textbook.

Yes, there’s much I am thankful for, and feeling more than blessed at this new direction God has taken me. Gloria Green Entertainment is still here; I have no plans of closing it. As much as I love teaching, I plan to continue to commit time to also helping people already out there working in the music and entertainment industry. I am still available for PR and consulting work; and I continue to do some writing, and even artist development. My most recent personal venture and passion is Catching Raindrops in Water Buckets. Check out my blog at http://www.catchingraindropsinwaterbuckets.com or postings on Twitter (@catchingtherain).

I pray you enjoy this wonderful season in the year and this season in your life. Blessings to you and your company, business, ministry, and family in the new year!

All of Life’s Best,

Gloria Green Entertainment!

An Artist’s Perspective

So one of the really great things about teaching in the Recording Industry at a university so close to Music City is that there’s so much talent, knowledge, history, and clout just a few miles away. And while you may think most people would want to keep all of that power to themselves, I have found that there’s far more music industry insiders willing and even wanting to share their stories, give advice, and leave students with great nuggets of wisdom about this business we call the Music Industry — what to take away from their courses; how to build a better “hands’ on” resume experience, who the players are; how to become one; and how to get things done! Of course, it helps that I was one of those “Insiders” and I still carry my “Music Biz card.” But I’m still always happy when I get a yes from associates and industry executives who will make the 30 mile drive from Nashville to Murfreesboro to share with my industry students.

Today, one of my Artist Management classes had the pleasure of hearing from a singer/songwriter, and his journey from college to internship, and landing not only his first job, but a record deal after that. If you’re interested in Daniel Kirkley’s story, you can check out his website at www.danielkirkley.com.

But it is the pieces of advice he left with my students that I’ll share here.

photo 3Daniel Kirkley

I.  Networking — Take advantage of the opportunity to meet and get to know people in the industry.

II.  Take Educated Risks — Someone is always watching you. They want to see what you can do and what you’re willing to do.

III.  Never Stop Working — Know what you want. But don’t be so focused on a single thing that you miss other opportunities.

IV.  Enjoy the Ride!

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Afterwards, I shared with them Daniel’s first music video. His new EP will be released by the end of the month, along with a new video.